Poland (EU) – Ukraine Border Crossing

Poland to Ukraine

 

The major frontier between the mighty European Union and Ukraine – an edgy, politically unstable yet extraordinary country. The contrast between the EU funded Polish side and the dishevelled Ukrainian side is stark. Within a few hundred metres you go from newly paved roads to potholed streets dominated by Soviet era minibuses and mischievous looking taxi drivers. For anyone who’s enjoyed free travel through the EU, it can be a daunting experience. Hopefully this quick guide helps.

Border crossing open 24 Hours
Poland – GMT+1
Ukraine – GMT+2
Frequent bus service to major towns on both sides
Fast Track for EU citizens into Poland
Toilets, currency exchange, shops on Ukraine sides. No ATM/Bankomat

Entry Visa

Poland – 90 days (out of 180) visa. Many countries do not require a visa. Others require a Schengen Zone visa (€60 fee).
Ukraine – 90 days (out of 180) visa. EU/Ex-USSR/USA/Canada/Japan do not require visa. All other must receive a letter of invitation and apply at Ukrainian Consulate. See further below for more info.

 

Poland Ukraine Border (4)

Medyka, on the eastern fringe of the EU lies just metres from the Ukrainian village of Shehyni. Since the end of the Cold War, this border crossing has become a major transit route.

As it is the most common crossing, it has gained a notorious reputation for delays of up to 8 hours into Poland, as well over zealous Ukrainian border guards.

Nonetheless it’s used by the majority of travellers – whether they be on foot, bike or bus. Trains also pass through, but passengers are not required to disembark. Due to the strict visa checks into the European Union, coming into Poland can be an impatient nightmare for non-EU citizens. Coming into Ukraine, the delays aren’t as bad. However due to the conflict in Ukraine, additional checks are carried out so do expect delays.

I got very lucky in May 2015. On crossing from Poland to Ukraine, on a weekday afternoon, there was no queue. I managed to get through within 15 minutes. It was quick through the Polish side but the Ukrainian guards were very cautious, and examined both me and my passport – probably the strictest customs officers I’ve come across since a trip to the USA. An English guy with me got stuck for 40 minutes – turns out they even made calls to the British Embassy to ensure he was a UK citizen (he has no idea why). So expect some delays.

Coming back into Poland, there was a large queue. I stood for a while until a 3 foot old woman started gesturing and pointing at me. For a while I figured she wanted me to smuggle in some cigarettes, however she was pointing to a EU “Fast Track” lane, where EU citizens could skip everyone else. I got through in 30 minutes, though good luck if you are not from the EU. Bring plenty of water, and anticipate the worst!

Make sure to take the yellow bus to Lviv, not the pink one... who knows where that one ends up!

Make sure to take the yellow bus to Lviv, not the pink one… who knows where that one ends up!

All bags are thoroughly hand checked by Polish officers – to ensure you are not smuggling copious amounts of cheap vodka and tobacco into the EU. But you are allowed take some, which I highly, highly recommend 🙂

Ukrainian Visa Situation:

Certain countries such as EU / Ex-USSR states / USA /  Canada do not need to apply for a visa and receive free upon entry at the border.

Others, including Oz, NZ, China and South Africa, must apply at a Ukrainian Consulate. Visitors must have a letter of invitation from an individual or business in Ukraine. Contact hostels / hotels and they can arrange this for you when booking. Visa take up to 30 days to process. Further information for countries linked below.

Australia /New Zealand citizens – AU$157
BrazilChinaSouth Africa – US$85
Full list of all individual country requirements here

Continuing Your Journey
Into Ukraine

A bus goes directly to Lviv (Львів in Ukrainian) from the border town of Shehyni (Шегині). The bus leaves every hour from the small bus station. To get to the bus station walk straight and then take the first left after all the little currency exchange offices. There is no ATM so you must bring some Euros or Zloty to exchange (make sure the bills have no tears or bad creases, as they didn’t accept some of my mine). There will be some taxi drivers offering rides to Lviv, but just ask for directions to the bus station and they’ll show you. Remember, it’s just around the corner so you will see it!All aboard the cramped marshurka to Lviv.

At the bus station office ask for a ticket to Lviv (Львів), as of May 2015 it cost 36 Hryvnia. Luckily there’s a shop next to the office, so grab a beer (and be astounded by the price) and wait until the yellow bus arrives. Just look for “Львів” on the front. The journey takes less than 2 hours and drops you at Lviv train station. It’s a 20 minute walk or 10 minute tram ride to the beautiful city centre. To get back to the border, the bus ticket office is to the right of the entrance of the train station.

Train Connections Ukraine (see the surprisingly good booking website)
Kiev (Київ) – from 110UAH (5 – 12hr)
Odessa (Одеса) -from 125UAH (12hr)
Ivano-Frankivsk (Івано-Франківськ) – from 25UAH (2 – 3hr)

Into Poland

After crossing the border, at the end of the walkway from the Polish customs office there is usually a minibus waiting. Again there’s no ATM so change your UAH for Zloty at the Ukrainian exchange offices before crossing. For 2 zloty, it’s a 20 minute ride to Przemyśl train / bus station.

Don’t forget, Ukrainian money cannot be exchanged outside Ukraine!

Przemyśl offers regular train connections across Poland. There are also bus connections across south-west Poland, and a direct minibus to Rzeszów Airport (28zt), which is very handy for cheap Ryanair flights.

Train Connections into Poland
Rzeszów – 22zt (1 hr 20 min)
Kraków – 43zt – (5hr)
Warsaw – 54zt – (7 – 9hr)

Rzesow is a pretty little town close to the Ukraine border.

Rzeszow is a pretty little town close to the Ukraine border.

Poland Ukraine Border

The timetable for the bus to Rzeszow and the airport. It departs from across the road where the minibus from the border stops. Everyone else will go to the underpass for the train but go the opposite direction.

5 Comments

  1. Dave Hampson
    21/06/2016 / 7:42 AM

    nice one, Conor, really useful, thanks! Dave

  2. gaurav
    20/11/2016 / 7:15 PM

    Hii i am from india i want to reach poland
    I come belarus or ukraine on study visa from india plz tell me that which broder crossing is easy and safe to reach poland.and i will get schengen tourist visa from belarus or ukraine or not.illegal i can cross the border or not.which border crossing is easy belarus or ukraine to reach poland.

    • 22/11/2016 / 8:09 PM

      Hello Gaurav, thank you for visiting. I would think it is easier to get to Poland from Ukraine instead of Belarus. However I have not been to Belarus before so I am not sure. You would need to already have the Schengen visa before going to the border. I imagine you need to apply for this in your home country. Or maybe ask the university where you study what the situation is.

  3. sonam
    01/12/2016 / 8:46 PM

    Kindly tell me which was the best place from gergia turkey urkaraine and how much expenses there . Can I stay for more than one month in a budget

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